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Photo of the inside of a computer is seen on Feb 23, 2019, in Jersey City, N.J.

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Geopolitics of Digital Standards

| July 2022

This brief outlines what digital standards are and how the United States, European Union, and China approach standards development. It examines the implications of China’s efforts to advance a new model of cyber sovereignty through its “New IP” proposal to illustrate that overhauls of existing infrastructure-level standards are unlikely, but foreshadow the changing nature of standards from a historically apolitical domain to one of geopolitical importance. Finally, it offers considerations for the development of a long-term strategy that focuses on technology areas of strategic interest to the U.S. at the application layer through targeted regulations that promote a free, open, and democratic internet while maintaining a clear and technically informed understanding of what is likely to change (and what is not) at the infrastructure level.